Last week’s tragic auto accident between Missoula and Lolo that claimed the life of a 10 year-old Florence boy has prompted Safe Kids Missoula to offer timely advice about child safety seats in vehicles.

Operations and Program Manager Kevi Berger said that children should be buckled into a safety seat every trip, every time.

“The big takeaway is you can have a trip to the grocery store or you can go into school or drive long distances and we just want to make sure that parents and families have access to the information and the resources to keep the children safe,” said Berger. “I think a lot of people don't really know that, or if they do know then maybe they're not as aware because our kids are taller or they're heavier, but you really need to keep children under the age of 13 in the backseat because that's where they are the safest.”

Berger said allowing children to ride in the front seat can expose them to air bag inflation injuries.

“If you've ever been in a car crash, it's one of those things where the airbag comes out and they're made to protect adult, so if you have your children in the front seat, they're not always the safest,” she said. “Then always of course to being in the backseat is the safest place and being buckled up properly and restrained properly is most important to keep our children safe in the cars.”

Berger said more child safety information is available online.

“We have, and of course, Steve Schmidt is amazing,” she said. “They keep updated information on their website. Of course you can always go to safe or our website at Safe Kids as well, or they can always just give us a call it 406-926-2522.”

Berger said there are resources available where anyone can obtain child safety seats, as well as the proper training to attach them to the car seat.

“If somebody needs a car seat or booster seat we can get them linked up so that the child can be properly restrained,” she said. “If they need a technician or support, there are car seat checkups. Some are virtual and some are in person, by appointment only right now. We just want to make sure that every family has the information so they can reach out when they need to and that we can help them.”

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Montana children and the leading cause of injury-related death for Montana adults.

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